By Martha Obi, Abuja
The Nigerian Navy will host an annual multi-national maritime exercise called Obangame Express from 15 – 20 March, 2019.
In a statement by the Naval Public Relations Officer, Commodore Suleman Dahun said the “annual multi-phased exercise sponsored by the US Naval Force Africa (US NAVAF) was designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing and enhance the collective capabilities of Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activities.”
Commodore Dahun said the exercise Obangame Express 2019 (OE19) comprising 31 participating countries including 20 African nations and 11 allied countries would be hosted by the Nigerian Navy in Western Naval Command Area of Responsibility, with the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, as the chief host.
He said eight Nigerian Navy ships including 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels (NNS Centenary and NNS Unity), 2 hellos and one ship each from US, Portugal and Morocco would be used in Lagos area.
Currently, Obangame Express is the largest maritime exercise in the world according to the Commander U. S Naval Forces Europe-Africa , NAVAF, Admiral James G Foggo.
Dahun said the “OE19 is aimed at assessing and improving Gulf of Guinea law enforcement capacity, promote national and regional security, improve African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership (AMLEP) planning and operations, and shape security force assistance efforts”.
As part of activities of Obangame Express, a Senior Leadership Symposium will hold from 19 – 21 March 2019.
It is expected that the Senior Leadership Symposium would elicit discussions geared towards finding solutions to common maritime security challenges while the trainings and exercise would foster unity among regional and friendly navies to restore order in the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain.